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In the debut edition of this series, the fantasy team looks at players who could outperform their PECOTA projections in batting average.

One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and finish at the top of one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall just shy of the top 10 (in the 11 to 25 range) and one longer shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’ll take a look at offense this week and pitching next. To kick things off here is a bounty of hidden treasure in the batting average department:

OUTSIDE THE TOP 10

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February 12, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Three-Year Projections: Third Basemen

12

Ben Carsley

With Miguel Cabrera set to move across the diamond, Evan Longoria and David Wright usurp the top tier.

For the previous installments in this series, click the links below:

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July 11, 2013 5:00 am

What You Need to Know: Dodgers Back at Breakeven

0

Daniel Rathman

The Dodgers are poised on the precipice of a winning record for the first time since April.

The Wednesday Takeaways
With 30 teams in the major leagues, there are 435 possible matchups, and—since there are no ties in baseball—870 possible results. Entering play on Wednesday night, 869 of those outcomes had, at some point in history, been recorded. But the Pirates had never beaten the Athletics. They had played 11 times, including twice earlier this week, and the A’s had won each one.

Finally, in their 12th crack at the green and gold since 2002, the Buccos came out on top. Clint Hurdle’s club, which—now just 28 wins shy of the franchise’s first winning season in two decades—is well on its way to a more significant bit of history, rode the left shoulder of Francisco Liriano to a 5-0 shutout in the series finale.


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For reasons unclear, Matthew wants the Rangers' third baseman to be the AL MVP. Can he make a case?

I’ve wanted to write about Adrian Beltre for a long time, but with the Rangers' quick playoff exit there hasn’t been a good excuse. Then today, at the sports bar, standing at the urinal, I thought, "You know, Adrian Beltre should be the MVP." Because that’s what I think about in the bathroom, standing at the urinal: Adrian Beltre and the MVP race. And nothing else.

The MVP votes have already been cast so this is as effective as a political advertisement on November 7th, but hey, sometimes the candidates have money left over and what are you gonna do? Besides donate it to a homeless shelter or something all moral or whatever.

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September 18, 2012 9:45 am

The Prospectus Hit List: Tuesday, September 18

4

Matthew Kory

Orioles' playoff odds: 73.7 percent. This is not a drill, people.

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September 12, 2012 10:24 am

The Prospectus Hit List: Wednesday, September 12

5

Matthew Kory

The A's get the save of the year, while the Angels win a made-up mascot contest. Clearly, the A's won the day.

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Adrian Beltre finally finds something he hates even more than being touched on the top of his head by his teammates.

Thing Adrian Beltre fears: being touched on the top of his head by his teammates.

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Three interesting occurrences in one plate appearance, a baseball first!

On Wednesday, Adrian Beltre batted in the sixth inning. It went like this. 

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David Wright's walk year isn't until 2013, but 2012 has been his walk year in another way.

David Wright will qualify for free agency at the end of 2013, barring a contract extension. Coming up with a superior third baseman to hit the open market over the past decade proves difficult. The best candidates are Adrian Beltre (thrice if you include his post-Seattle dip) and Alex Rodriguez (though he never seemed to entertain non-Yankees suitors). Wright is a five-time, soon-to-be six-time, All-Star, a two-time winner of the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards at third base, and a three-time top-10 finisher in MVP voting. Franchise third basemen at Wright’s age (he turns 30 in December) seldom hit free agency.

Wright’s .412/.513/.626 line serves two purposes: it paces the Mets and perpetuates the contract year myth. Invariably, Wright’s line will deflate. His batting average will drop below .400, his on-base percentage below .500, his slugging percentage below .600. Citi Field’s walls receded, but Wright isn’t likely to blow past his previous best season (.325/.416/.546 in 2007) by nearly .170 OPS points. But that reality aside, there is reason to think Wright’s gaudy start holds some genuine improvement. 

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February 21, 2012 3:00 am

Western Front: Runs? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Runs!

5

Geoff Young

Given their overturned offense, will the 2012 Giants be able to improve their won-loss record from 2011?

Not long ago, while discussing the anemic offense of last year's Mariners, we noted that 10 MLB teams scored fewer than four runs per game in 2011. Only two of those teams finished with a winning record. The San Francisco Giants represented the most extreme case; they won 86 games despite having the National League's worst offense.

That got me to thinking: How often has the team with the NL's worst offense finished with a winning record? The answer may come as a surprise.

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In an article that appeared last week on ESPN.com, Peter Gammons provided a list of 20 players whom respondants to an informal straw poll described as candidates for a breakout season. The list, derived from a survey of major league executives, included a mix of pitchers and hitters, five-tool talents and makeup guys, united only in their ability to tease hibernating fantasy leaguers into dreams of greener days ahead. If one needs any reminder that lists like these are little more than a grownup's version of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, it's worth reviewing a similar list that Gammons produced last year.

In an article that appeared last week on ESPN.com, Peter Gammons provided a list of 20 players whom respondants to an informal straw poll described as candidates for a breakout season. The list, derived from a survey of major league executives, included a mix of pitchers and hitters, five-tool talents and makeup guys, united only in their ability to tease hibernating fantasy leaguers into dreams of greener days ahead.

If one needs any reminder that lists like these are little more than a grownup's version of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, it's worth reviewing a similar list that Gammons produced last year. That list includes roughly equal representation of the good (Alfonso Soriano and Derek Lowe), the bad (J.D. Drew), and the ugly (Juan Uribe), as well as four players whose performances were so impressive that they made repeat appearances on this year's list.

Now, none of this is meant to be a knock on Gammons, or the lists he has compiled. Everybody likes to talk about breakout candidates this time of year, ourselves included (Eddie Yarnall, anyone?). Having formerly moonlighted as a daily team correspondent for another baseball website, I can attest to the fact that virtually every player provides at least some excuse each winter for gushing commentary, delusions of grandeur, or other forms of irrational exuberance.

As it happens, however, we're unrolling a new forecasting system at BP this year--one that is also preoccupied with the question of breakout candidates. The PECOTA system--short for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm--seeks to identify potential breakouts by comparing a player against a database of his historical peers. In so doing, it comes up with an objective estimate of the probability that a player will display marked improvement in the upcoming season (defined as an increase of at least 20% in his Equivalent Runs per plate appearance, or a decrease of at least 20% in his PERA, relative to a weighted average of his previous three years of performance). We refer to this estimate as a player's Breakout score. Readers interested in a more extensive treatment of the PECOTA system will find it in this year's book, and in the PECOTA glossary provided here.

One brief caveat: the PECOTA system is new technology. That doesn't mean that we stole it from the Raelians, or that we haven’t tested it thoroughly. But sometimes PECOTA provides us with definitive and unexpected answers, and we need to work backwards to try and explain why they came about. That's a bastardization of the scientific method, and I'll ask that you'll excuse me as I run through the hitters on Gammons' list.

Rank on Gammons List, Player, PECOTA Breakout Score

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